Sunday, September 2, 2012

Back to School!

Yesterday, my lyceum had its "First Bell" ceremony, the traditional first day of school opening celebration... a full student body assembly outside with tons of parents and grandparents. And yes, yesterday was Saturday. All primary and secondary schools in Ukraine traditionally start on the 1st of September, so we started our school back up on a Saturday. This is what "First Bell" looked like: all of the students lined up with their teachers to form a huge circle in front of our school, with anxious parents and grandparents forming the outer ring. This is my last semester in Ukraine, so it was my last first day of school : )

Kids line up from 1st through 10th grade by class. This is the side with the younger students. 
The line stretches all the way around to the entrance to the school. The 11th graders (the graduating class) is placed in the center, directly opposite the entrance to the school.
In case you didn't notice, a lot of the girls are wearing GIANT fluffy white hair bows. This is part of the traditional Ukrainian school uniform. Most schools will describe their uniforms as "black on bottom, white on top" - meaning a white shirt or blouse, and black slacks or a skirt. However, the more traditional uniform for girls looks more like what many Americans would imagine a French maid costume to be like... a lacy white apron over brown or black pleated Girl Scout dress-thing, complete with white knee-length stockings and black shoes.  A lot of the boys wear suits and ties as their school uniform, and its especially adorable to see little 6 and 7 year old boys with little 3-piece suits.

The 5th graders from the 5B class, with their teacher Liliya Nikolaievna behind them. 
The 11th graders standing behind the 1st graders.
More 5th graders... they are excited to be start their first year of secondary school (primary school is from 1st through 4th grade here).
As with any other Ukrainian holiday, we had girls singing and dancing and even a few poetry readings by the 1st graders. They were really cute while reciting poems in Ukrainian. Usually there is a presentation of traditional Ukrainian-style dancing, but this year the girls prepared a beautiful dance with ribbons.

Girls dancing together. 
Beautiful ribbons! 
A few little girls singing during the presentation of the school emblem (the circular sign held on the left by a boy and a girl from the 10th grade). 
Its also a Ukrainian custom to present bouquets of flowers on holidays, therefore many of the children brought flowers for their teachers. At the end of the assembly, the schoolyard turns into a zoo of children running around to try to find their favorite teachers to shower them with flowers.

Liliya Nikolaievna being showered with flowers from her 5th graders. 
The First Bell ceremony ends after the ringing of the "first" bell by the oldest and the youngest student. Usually it is the oldest boy from 11th grade carrying the youngest girl from 1st grade on his shoulder, but sometimes it can be the other way around.

 Don't worry, we didn't keep the students for any lessons - we just had the opening assembly at 8am then all the students went with their homeroom teachers for a few announcements. I decorated the door to my classroom last week with the "henna hands" that my 6th graders drew last year, during a lesson that I taught about India as an English-speaking country.

High-5 for the first day of school!
If you'd like to read about the "Last Bell" assembly that is held on the last day of school, you can check out my post about a Ukrainian style graduation here. The post is from 2011, because it rained last May on the day of the Last Bell and we had to have the whole ceremony indoors... there is hardly enough space for all the students to stand inside a corridor inside our school, so everyone was really squished and unfortunately I didn't take any photos. And just for kicks, here is a photo of our World Map!

I'm very proud to say that it survived untouched throughout the summer and I hope it lasts for years... though that probably won't happen since all the kids will probably want to touch it and measure their hands haha.  


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